Falana, Army, Air Force Disagree over Military Justice System

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Chief Femi Falana SAN

The Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Airforce have said they disagree with several observations made by human rights activist, Femi Falana (SAN) on aspects of military justice system in a memorandum submitted before the Presidential panel of investigation to review compliance of the armed forces with human rights obligations and rules of engagement.

Falana in his memorandum titled “The military justice system negates human rights” argued among other things that contrary to the general belief in military circles, a peaceful or violent demonstration or protest by soldiers does not constitute mutiny per se.

He added that the wearing of uniforms by military personnel outside the barracks should be prohibited. He said the involvement of soldiers in internal conflict is illegal and unconstitutional and that even deployment of soldiers for election is unconstitutional.

However, counsel to the Army, Ogbeni Biola Oyebanji said while he agrees that several aspects of the Armed Forces Act (1993) and the rules of procedure of military need review as recommended by Falana, he urged that the panel in his recommendations must discountenance protest and demonstration as a form of registering complaints by personnel of the Armed forces.

He said allowing military men to go on protest and demonstration is endangering the country, adding that the negativity that may be inflicted on the Armed forces if indiscipline is allowed to fester cannot be overemphasized.

The Nigerian Airforce, represented by its Deputy Director of Legal Services, Group Captain Musa Sanda Jiga said while it also agrees on the need for reforms, Nigeria cannot afford to have a military that does not take orders.

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“Once in the military, you sacrifice some freedoms, which include movement, speech, assembly, political rights and even to a large extent religion and ethnic,” he said.

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